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How much fiber should I eat per day if I have diabetes?

Toby Smithson
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

The recommendation of fiber intake is the same as for the general population. The guidelines come from the National Academy of Sciences with the recommendation of 25 grams/day of fiber for women and 38 grams of fiber/day for men under the age of 50 years. For adults over 50 years of age the recommendations are reduced to 21 grams/day for women and 30 grams/day for men. Currently Americans consume only about 14-15 grams/day of fiber. Fiber is recommended as part of the eating pattern of someone with diabetes because fiber slows down the absorption of carbohydrate from the food which helps keep blood sugar levels steady. People with diabetes should follow the guidelines set by the National Academy of Sciences.

Fiber contributes to digestive health, helps to keep you regular and helps to make you feel full and satisfied after eating. Additional health benefits, of a diet high in fiber—such as a reduction in cholesterol levels—have been suggested by some.

For good health, adults need to try to eat 25 to 30 grams of fiber each day. Most Americans do not consume nearly enough fiber in their diet, so while it is wise to aim for this goal, any increase in fiber in your diet can be beneficial. Most of us only get about 1/2 what is recommended.

Good sources of dietary fiber include:

  • Beans and legumes. Think black beans, kidney beans, pintos, chick peas (garbanzos), white beans and lentils.
  • Fruits and vegetables, especially those with edible skin (for example, apples, corn and beans) and those with edible seeds (for example, berries).
  • Whole grains such as:
    • Whole wheat pasta
    • Whole grain cereals (Look for those with three grams of dietary fiber or more per serving, including those made from whole wheat, wheat bran and oats.)
    • Whole grain breads (To be a good source of fiber, one slice of bread should have at least three grams of fiber. Another good indication: look for breads where the first ingredient is a whole grain. For example, whole wheat or oats.) Many grain products now have "double fiber" with extra fiber added.
  • Nuts—try different kinds. Peanuts, walnuts and almonds are a good source of fiber and healthy fat, but watch portion sizes, because they also contain a lot of calories in a small amount.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.